Pop psychology

What does the type of pop you drink say about you?

What does the type of pop you drink say about you?

It’s a question most of us never ask, but it’s one the soda slingers try to answer all the time in their advertising efforts. Pepsi is embodied by the youthful, carefree Britney Spears while Sprite finds its expression in the goofball, sporty Jerome Williams. Which spokesperson is more your style?

Toronto-based market research firm The Bay Charles Consulting Company (BC3) takes such questions very seriously.

It applies the theories of famed psychologist Carl Jung in a modern twist on one-to-one research. Rooted in Jung’s theory of archetypes – recurring themes in human history – their brand analysis begins with a series of interviews conducted by BC3′s very own Jungian, Bruce Barnes. He starts with a personality profile, to find out whether the participant is an introvert or an extrovert, then he leads a very broad discussion, narrowing the questions down as he gets a sense of each individual’s personality to see where the product fits in the person’s life.

Soda was the subject of BC3′s most recent proprietary study. Barnes, in conjunction with managing partner Laurence Bernstein, rounded up 27 participants between the ages of 18 and 24 (15 lemon-lime pop drinkers and 12 cola fans) to develop a report called ‘Pop Aesthetics: A Taste for Pleasure or Power.’

‘The process is very organic, there’s no list of questions, it’s much different from traditional market research,’ Bernstein explains. ‘If you ask people the same questions, you’ll get the same answers – you’ll always end up finding what you want. That’s not the approach we take; we try to find out what underlies the product, not how it’s positioned. We try to find the landscape and how people fit it into a person’s own landscape.’

BC3′s analysis has found some interesting points about the psychological makeup of lemon-lime and cola drinkers. First off, cola fans really don’t get along with lemon-lime drinkers, as both camps think the other is making a mistake by drinking what they drink.

The research also found that lemon-lime drinkers are centred on the ‘pleasure’ archetype, which is driven by a thirst to enjoy as many stimuli as possible. Cola drinkers on the other hand, are characterized by the ‘power’ archetype – such people like to be in control and enjoy challenges.

In fact, the lemon-lime drinkers’ perception of the cola drinkers was summed up by an 18-year-old female university student, who said, ‘Cola drinkers are driven people. When you’re around them, a lot is coming at you.’

Meanwhile a 23-year-old female lemon-lime drinker, an interior designer, echoed Sprite’s brand positioning: ‘Lemon-lime is not about image. It’s about what you like. It’s more complex and more informed than cola.’

Yet another lemon-lime drinker, a male student aged 21, added: ‘Lemon-lime drinkers are easygoing, open-minded and straightforward people.’

When talking about childhood memories of soft drinks, the general consensus was that cola was somewhat forbidden. As a 23-year-old male university student asked: ‘Would you give your kid coffee?’ He added, ‘I was a juice kid. I was never allowed cola as a child. I was ‘illegally’ introduced to it by my aunt.’

A 21-year-old male training to be a plumber said, ‘I function better with a cola – it’s a boost in the middle of a bad day.’

Overall, the cola drinkers’ perception of the lemon-lime drinkers was summed up by a male bank trainee, who said, ‘Lemon-lime is a soft drink for kids. It’s lightweight.’

But how can such responses be put to work in a branding campaign?

‘Brands are constructs in people’s minds,’ Bernstein says. And knowing that cola drinkers tend to be more aggressive than lemon-lime drinkers gives marketers a basis on which they can structure their messages, Barnes adds. ‘When we talk to marketers, we offer them a core portrait–a multi-dimensional personality sketch of the type of people they want to target.’